|| Country Comfort
|| Alexis Georgopoulos
|| Vol.12 No. 94
"Country Comfort" was an interview by Alexis Georgopoulos originally published June 2002 in URB magazine Volume 12 Number 94.
This is an original text copied verbatim from the original source. Do not edit this text to correct errors or misspellings. Aside from added wikilinks, this text is exactly as it originally appeared.
Rural shut-ins Boards of Canada fit nightmares, rainbows and David Koresh into the melodic mathematics of their beautiful new album.
If Boards of Canada's songs could, they would come to life. Children would appear dressed in striped T-shirts and corduroys, shaggy hair framing their fresh faces, grass stains on their knees. The sun would beam down rippling rays of golden white and kaleidoscopic pastels. And honey laughter would careen off the sky's canopy, quivering with he rush of playground love and infinite possibility. Alas, lest you think this a spotless utopia, someone would be hidden in the bushes watching. And not with the best of intentions.
Back after four years holed up in a remote bunker in rural Scotland, Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison are following up 2000's In a Beautiful Place Out in the Country EP with the psychedelic diorama that is Geogaddi. Like nearly all the releases that have preceded it, Geogaddi is less a collection of songs than a world unto itself, unfurling in sheaths of warbling analog synth melodies and tripped-out Sugar Hill-meets-Autechre beats. It's the aural equivalent of sitting on your analyst's couch, rummaging through a past you're still trying to make sense of.
Loathing publicity and its trappings, the reclusive duo decided on doing minimal promotion for Geogaddi. What follows is one of the very few interviews to follow the album's release.
I've always thought that hype does a disservice to the things it seeks to elevate in that it doesn't allow for personal discovery. Instead, it imposes heightened expectation and scrutiny.
Marcus Eoin: Yeah, it seems impossible to get around this. A deliberate lack of promotion can accidentally become like a form of promotion in itself. We never had any concern about this sort of thing in the past because we've been used to having no more than four fans. When we did [Music Has the Right to Children] nobody had heard of us, and I wish we could do things with a blank slate like that every time. Expectations are higher now, but there's an even weirder phenomenon where some fans actually think they know how our new music is supposed to sound, [so] they scold us for getting it wrong! In the end, all that matters to us is the individual who is willing to give the music a fair go and ignore all the peripheral nonsense that we have no control over.
You have said that you're turned off by electronic musicians' celebration of the technological and urban. Still, even though you live in the country, it seems urbania hasn't left your songs altogether.
E: That's true, otherwise we'd just be making folk music with fiddles and accordions. Our primary instruments are the synth and sampler, and our primary inspiration comes from film and TV, so I suppose we've taken what we want from hi-tech culture, but the hi-tech doesn't govern what we do. Too many new electronic musicians are obsessed with hi-tech gear and software, and that's what they devote 99 percent of their time thinking and talking about. It's like a sculptor making something out of clay. He can buy the best clay and the best tools, but he needs to have some good ideas in his head in the first place.
Geogaddi continues your contrast of naïve, childlike sounds and imagery with unsettling, ominous atmospheres. What draws you to this juxtaposition?
Michael Sandison: It's just a contrast that we've liked using quite a bit on the last two albums because it makes people look inside themselves and dredge up murky memories or nightmares and so on. There's no specific agenda, we just try to provoke feelings and I suppose we're more interested in sad, reflective or disturbing ideas for some reason. But you need to contrast things like that with innocent, positive, happy-rainbow sounds.
Your titles often reference geometry, numbers. Are you trying to draw parallels between natural patterns and technological ones?
E: I think we're more into the idea that everything is mathematical at the root level. But anything beautiful in nature or even manmade is only so because it has reached some sort of mathematical completeness, a kind of working equation in the form of tones and rhythms. And the way that we recognize mathematical perfection in say, a melody, is to say, "Hey, I like this bit of this tune."
The In a Beautiful Place Out in the country EP features both an image of David Koresh and a reference to him in the lyrics. Geogaddi was sequenced to play at 66 minutes and 6 seconds, you have a song titled "The Devil is in the Details" and at the All Tomorrow Parties music festival, your films featured clips of people losing themselves in euphoric religious abandon. What gives with the cultish phenomena?
E: We're interested in all kinds of subjects, and I suppose we went through a patch of looking at cults and the mass mind control of religion and so on. We read a lot and pay attention to cultural events, but we view everything from a distance. We're up here in our observation point, gathering up data about all the weird shit that's happening in the world and spewing it out in some way in our music and visuals. The Davidians thing was about the shock of seeing the way the U.S. authorities handled it all.
Geogaddi's cover art is very reminiscent of children's educational filmstrips. Were you going for this specific aesthetic?
S: It's as ambiguous as the title. We wanted the title to have multiple meanings so you can choose your own. The cover image can be taken more than one way too, because it's a bit simplistic and childish like a school textbook or a children's educational TV program, but it also has a kind of ritualistic pagan flavor. I think we're always trying to trigger ambiguous memories of things we've experienced as kids. We want to see if anyone out there is tuned in to what we're thinking.